‘Nontoxic’ nail polish may still contain toxic chemicals

Nail polish brands that claim to be free of several commonly used chemicals linked with health problems may contain other dangerous chemicals, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“It’s a chemical Whack-a-Mole,” said lead author Anna Young, a doctoral student at Harvard Chan School, in an October 10, 2018 Reuters article. “That’s especially important for nail salon workers because some of these toxins are linked to complications with fertility, thyroid issues, obesity and cancer.”

Nail polish manufacturers began phasing out three toxic chemicals in the early 2000s—dibutyl phthalate (DnBP), toluene, and formaldehyde—and labeling their polishes as “3-free.” But the researchers found that some of the polishes contained a chemical called triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), which is commonly swapped for DnBP and which has also been linked with health issues. They also found that some products contained didiethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), a hormone-disrupting chemical and possible carcinogen.

Read the Reuters article: Nail polishes often claim falsely to be toxin-free

Read a Time article: Even ‘Non-Toxic’ Nail Polish May Contain Harmful Chemicals, Study Says

Learn more

Choosing personal care products with fewer ingredients may reduce risks from harmful chemicals (Harvard Chan School news)

Harmful chemicals removed from products often replaced with something as bad or worse (Harvard Chan School news)

The Continual Regrettable Substitution of Nail Polish Ingredients (Hoffman Program on Chemicals and Health)